A woman is comfored by other, as she mourns the death of a relative, who died after consuming locally made toxic liquor, in Toba Tek Singh, Pakistan, December 27, 2016. REUTERS/Fayyaz Hussain

Christmas moonshine kills 23 in Pakistan town

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) A toxic homemade Christmas liquor killed at least 23 people, mostly from Pakistan's Christian minority community, and made dozens sick, police said on Tuesday.

At least 45 people were treated for poisoning after drinking the moonshine in the town of Toba Tek Singh, Punjab province, about 315 km (195 miles) south of Islamabad.

"The maker and supplier of the toxic liquor is also included among the dead," senior police official Bilal Kamyana told Reuters. "The maker prepared liquor at home and sold it in polythene bags for 500 rupees (about $5) each."

Deaths from tainted liquor, often home-brewed, occur periodically in Muslim-majority Pakistan, often around religious festivals. In March, at least 40 people, mostly Hindus, died after drinking toxic liquor days ahead of the festival of Holi.

It is illegal for Muslims to buy or consume alcohol in the country, and minorities need permits to buy it in restricted quantities.

Christians make up about 1.6 percent of Pakistan's 190 million people, with most living in Punjab.